Natalia Martinez is a staff scientist and functional group lead in the Early Translation Branch within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation, where she collaborates on projects with academia and the private sector throughout the translational science landscape. As part of an interdisciplinary group of scientists and engineers, she works toward the design, miniaturization, optimization and implementation of cell-based and biochemical assays for high-throughput screening and profiling of small molecules. Martinez recently was appointed as a functional group leader of the Antiviral Program for Pandemics for which she directs a team of research biologists who develop and optimize biochemical and cell-based assays for viral targets of pandemic potential.
Before joining NCATS in 2013, Martinez was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Richard I. Gregory, Ph.D., at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital. She joined Dr. Gregory’s lab and The Stem Cell Program to study how small regulatory RNAs are generated, how they exert their gene regulatory function and their role in the self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem cells.
Martinez earned her doctorate in biomedical sciences from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she was mentored by A. J. Marian Walhout, Ph.D., in the Program of Gene Function and Expression. She contributed to the development and implementation of high-throughput yeast-one hybrid assays to map, characterize and validate genome-scale microRNA regulatory networks.
Martinez received her bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she worked in the area of biotransformations using Escherichia coli as a microbial catalyst to synthesize modified nucleosides for antiviral therapy applications. She also gained experience in cancer research while working as a research assistant in the laboratory of Lucio H. Castilla, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts, investigating the genetics of acute myeloid leukemia in mouse models.
Martinez’s current research interests in chemical biology include novel high-throughput screening paradigms and technology development for the characterization of small molecules as well as target class profiling. She also is interested in the development and implementation of physiological relevant assay platforms, such as 3-D spheroids, applicable to diverse disease pathologies/conditions. She currently is engaged in collaborative projects related to antivirals, cancer, cancer stem cells and metabolism, epigenetics, polycystic kidney disease, and neurodegenerative disorders.